Dr. Mike Greger on How to Combat Most Common Diseases Through Plant-based Diets

So what about treating MS with diet? The most frequently prescribed drug for multiple sclerosis is beta interferon, which can make you feel lousy, costs $30,000 a year. But hey, it may be worthwhile if it actually worked.

We learned last year that it does not seem to prevent or delay long-term disability. And so that leaves chemo drugs like mitoxantrone that causes irreversible heart damage in 1 out of every 8 people who go on the drug, and treatment-related acute leukemia. It causes leukemia in nearly 1% of the people who take it.

But hey, MS is no walk in the park. If only there was some simple, safe, cheap, side-effect free solution that also just so happened to be the most effective treatment for MS ever described. Dr. Roy Swank, who we lost at age 99, distinguished neurologist, over 170 scientific papers published, but let me just cut to the chase.

He found that in all probability, MS is caused largely by the consumption of saturated animal fat. Now he thought it was the sludging of the blood caused by even a single meal high in saturated fat that may clog some of the little capillaries that feed our nerves. But now we know animal fats have all sorts of adverse effects such as inflammation, so who knows what the actual mechanism may be? Regardless, the results Dr. Swank published remain the most effective treatment of multiple sclerosis ever published in the peer reviewed medical literature.

In patients with early stage MS, 95% were without progression 5of the disease 34 years later after adopting his low saturated fat dietary program. To date, no medication or invasive procedure has ever even come close to demonstrating such success. Doesn’t cost $30,000, doesn’t give you leukemia and works better.

Neurological problems

Neurological problems are second on the list, but tend to be more common conditions like headaches. Feel free to check out my videos on treating migraine headaches, for example, by rubbing lavender essential oil on the upper lip. And hot sauce in the nose for cluster headaches? Believe me, it’s better than having cluster headaches.

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I’ve talked about both preventing and treating Parkinson’s with a plant-based diet since it’s one of our leading killers, but the most common movement disorder isn’t Parkinson’s. It’s what’s called “essential tremor,” affecting 1 in 25 adults over 40, and up to 1 in 5 of those in their 90’s, making it one of the most common neurological diseases.

In addition to the potentially debilitating hand tremor, there can be other neuropsychiatric manifestations such as difficulty walking, as well as various levels of cognitive impairment.

What causes it? Well, there’s group of neurotoxins that produce tremor called beta carboline alkaloids. Harmane is one of the most potent of these tremor-producing neurotoxins. You expose people to these chemicals and they develop a tremor; you take it away, the tremor disappears.

Well, what if you’re exposed long-term? Well, this recent study found that those with essential tremor have much higher levels of this toxin in their bloodstreams compared to those without the tremor.

How did they get exposed to it? Primarily through meat: beef, chicken and pork — and fish actually. So if this potent, tremor-producing neurotoxin is concentrated in cooked muscle foods, is meat consumption associated with a higher risk of essential tremor? Men who ate the most meat in this study had 21 times the odds of essential tremor.

Just to put that in context, you go back to the original studies on smoking and lung cancer, smoking was only linked to at most 14 times the odds, not 21. That’s like a 2,000% increase in odds for this disabling brain disease.

Circulatory diseases

Next on the list is circulatory diseases, the number one killer of men and women.

Among populations who ate plant-based diets, MS was almost non-existent.

What about heart disease? Last year, the International Journal of Epidemiology reprinted a landmark article from the 50’s that started out with a shocking statement.

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“In the African population of Uganda, coronary heart disease is almost non-existent.” Our number one cause of death almost nonexistent? What were they eating? Plantains and sweet potatoes, other vegetables, corn, millet, pumpkins, tomatoes and, green leafy vegetables are taken by all.

And their protein almost entirely from plant sources, and they had the cholesterol levels to prove it, similar to modern-day plant eaters. Maybe the Africans were just dying early from other diseases and so never lived long enough to have a heart attack? No.

Here’s age-matched heart attack rates in Uganda versus St. Louis. Out of 632 autopsies in Uganda, one myocardial infarction. Out of 632 Missourians —same age and gender distribution— 136 myocardial infarctions. More than 100 times the rate of our number 1 killer.

In fact, they were so blown away they did another 800 autopsies in Uganda, and still just that one small healed infarct, meaning it wasn’t even the cause of death, out of 1,427 patients. Less than 1 in a thousand. Whereas in the U.S., it’s an epidemic.

This is a list of diseases found commonly here, and in populations that live and eat like the US, but were rare or even nonexistent in populations eating diets centered around whole plant foods. These are among our most common diseases, like obesity. Hiatal hernia, one of the most common stomach problems. Hemorrhoids and varicose veins, our most common venous disorders. Colorectal cancer, the number 2 cause of cancer death. Diverticulosis, the number 1 disease of the intestines. Appendicitis, the number 1 cause of emergency abdominal surgery. Gallbladder disease, the number 1 cause of non-emergency abdominal surgery. And ischemic heart disease, our commonest cause of death here, but a rarity among plant-based populations.

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